The Russian pair reached their first semifinal by beating the German duo, the winners of the most recent FIVB World Tour tournament in Qatar, 2-1 (18-21, 23-21, 15-13). It sets up a semifinal against Poland’s Michal Kadziola and Jakub Szalankiewicz who defeated their compatriots Maciej Kosiak and Maciej Rudol 2-0 (21-18, 21-18).
The other semifinal will be between Qatar’s Jefferson Santos and Cherif Younousse and a second Polish team in former U19, U21 and U23 World Champions Piotr Losiak and Bartosz Kantor.
“I don’t know what to say,” Stoyanovskiy said. “It was very tough out there against them and we had to focus hard after we lost the first set, but we managed it well.”
The 19-year-olds are embarking on their third year on the World Tour and have played all but one tournament as a pair, including the 2014 U19 and U21 World Championships.
Despite their lack of experience, they held their nerve and played some top-class beach volleyball to knock out a pair who won two gold and two silver in 2015.
“We trained with them recently so we knew how they play,” Stoyanovskiy added. “It is the first time we have reached a semifinal, so of course we are proud of the result.”
Qataris reach new best
Jefferson and Cherif are also into a World Tour semifinals for the first time after they defeated Mexico’s Lombardo Ontiveros and Juan Virgen 2-0 (21-15, 21-19).
The pair quickly grabbed control of the match and didn’t let go despite the Mexican duo’s best efforts. The result eclipses their quarterfinal finish from the Netherlands 2015, FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships, the Qatari pair’s previous best finish.
“They are a good team and we were in the same pool,” Cherif said. “They have a good serve, but we raised our aggression and we did the same as we did in the pool match and that got us through.
Jefferson and Cherif celebrate winning a point
“This year we are doing our very best to reach Rio and this is only the beginning. This year we are working so hard to reach the Olympics and it won’t be easy for us or any of the teams.”
The Kish Island event is the first of the 11 Open tournaments to be staged by the FIVB in 2016, following on from Open events in Puerto Vallarta, Antalya and Doha in October and November last year, which heralded the start of the 2015-16 season. Qatar will host a second Open event in Doha from April 4 to 8.
The 2015-2016 beach volleyball calendar also includes five Grand Slams, three Major Series stops and the second edition of the Swatch FIVB World Tour Finals. The beach volleyball tournament at the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games which will take place on Copacabana Beach will be the highlight of the 2016 calendar.